Bahamian students take part in virtual pet care learning

Bahamian students take part in virtual pet care learning
Pet Food Institute representative Hope Sealey engages Queen’s College Primary School students in a virtual presentation on foods that are safe for pets to eat. (PHOTO: PET FOOD INSTITUTE)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Hundreds of students in The Bahamas can now answer questions that might stump their parents about pet care, thanks to a series of virtual chats by the Pet Food Institute (PFI).

The Washington, DC-based trade association’s Bahamian representatives took to Zoom recently to share information with students at Queen’s College in Nassau as part of a new virtual series of campus visits.

“The kids were amazing,” said PFI representative Hope Sealey, whose talk focused on understanding which foods were safe or unsafe for domestic animals.

“Even the little ones asked the most sensible questions, such as: ‘If raisins are good for me, why can’t I give them to my dog?’

“It’s questions like that which make you realize how serious youngsters are about looking after their pet’s health.”

Some 400 students in four primary school grades at Queen’s College took part in the virtual lecture. They participated in interactive sessions and were tested on information presented in entertaining and informative short videos.

“During a normal year, we visit schools in person accompanied by a dog or cat, and the kids love it,” Sealey said.

“With the pandemic, there were no dog shows or other public events, learning was virtual and we had to get creative. We realized we could do our furry friends a favor by sharing the information about what is safe or unsafe in a virtual world.”

Queen’s College Primary School students were presented with gifts of coloring books by Pet Food Institute representative Hope Sealey. (PHOTO COURTESY OF PET FOOD INSTITUTE)

PFI publishes a list of foods to avoid giving pets, including chocolate, onions, avocados, grapes and raisins, nutmeg, macadamia nuts and alcohol.

“The biggest misconception, and one we always try to correct, is that it is okay to give your dog a bone, any bone,” Sealy said.

“But cooked bones in particular can be extremely dangerous for dogs and could even lead to death.

“We show images of what a cooked bone can do, how it can damage the spleen or cause digestive problems, even splinter and cause internal bleeding and, in the worst-case scenarios, choking.

“The kids wanted to know things like: ‘What is inside grapes and raisins that makes them bad for dogs and cats? Are milk and cheese bad for cats and dogs? Are all bones bad for dogs? If some human foods make animals sick, how come they don’t make us sick?’”

PFI also stresses the danger of feeding pets table scraps.

Sealey noted: “Commercially available dog and cat food is specifically made to contain special nutrition that pets need.

“If your pet is like family, treat them like family and give them only safe foods made for pets. That is our best advice.”